Photographic evaluation of the impacts of bottom fishing on benthic epifauna

ICES Journal of Marine Science
By: , and 



The gravel sediment habitat on the northern edge of Georges Bank (East coast of North America) is an important nursery area for juvenile fish, and the site of a productive scallop fishery. During two cruises to this area in 1994 we made photographic transects at sites of varying depths that experience varying degrees of disturbance from otter trawling and scallop dredging. Differences between sites were quantified by analyzing videos and still photographs of the sea bottom. Videos were analyzed for sediment types and organism abundance. In the still photos, the percentages of the bottom covered by bushy, plant-like organisms and colonial worm tubes (Filograna implexa) were determined, as was the presence/absence of encrusting bryozoa. Non-colonial organisms were also identified as specifically as possible and sediment type was quantified. Significant differences between disturbed and undisturbed areas were found for the variables measured in the still photos; colonial epifaunal species were conspicuously less abundant at disturbed sites. Results from the videos and still photos were generally consistent although less detail was visible in the videos. Emergent colonial epifauna provide a complex habitat for shrimp, polychaetes, brittle stars and small fish at undisturbed sites. Bottom fishing removes this epifauna, thereby reducing the complexity and species diversity of the benthic community. (C) 2000 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Photographic evaluation of the impacts of bottom fishing on benthic epifauna
Series title ICES Journal of Marine Science
DOI 10.1006/jmsc.2000.0584
Volume 57
Issue 4
Year Published 2000
Language English
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 15 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title ICES Journal of Marine Science
First page 987
Last page 1001
Country United States
Other Geospatial Georges Bank